LOGAN — The Columbus Washboard Company should remain where it stands, the Logan City Planning & Annexation Committee decided Monday morning when it refused to grant a zoning variance.
The Logan Daily News previously reported that the Logan Zoning Board of Appeals on Aug. 18 approved a request by the Columbus Washboard Company, 14 Gallagher Avenue, to swap locations with North Fitness Center, 4 E. Main St.
The council committee, however, found that the Columbus Washboard Company was not compatible with Zone District B-1 (Central Business District), in which North Fitness Center operates.
The purpose of Zone District B-1 is to “recognize and to encourage the future development of the existing downtown retail, governmental, office and institutional core of the city and to encourage reasonable expansion that will not unduly jeopardize adjacent residential neighborhoods,” according to Logan’s code of ordinances, Section 157.111.
At its Gallagher Avenue address, the Columbus Washboard Company operates in Zone District M-1 (Restricted Manufacturing District), meaning it includes “all uses involving processing, fabrication, packaging, assembly and related functions whether using machinery or labor and associated with the industrial operations of producing goods, components, and other related items,” according to Logan’s code of ordinances, Section 157.119 subsection 15.
Larry Gertsner, an owner of the Columbus Washboard Company, stated in the August appeal that the company is “primarily an assembly operation putting together wood and metal into a frame similar to a picture frame.”
After watching roughly 20 minutes worth of video Monday featuring the Columbus Washboard Company and its manufacturing processes, the committee found that comparing its operations to “picture framing is sort of a stretch,” as Councilwoman Judie Henniger, First Ward, put it.
Chairperson of the Planning & Annexation Committee and Councilwoman Shirley Chapman, Second Ward, also stressed that any zoning variance granted remains tied to its respective property “forever.”
“If the (Columbus Washboard Company were to move, it) sets up the potential for other types of manufacturing businesses to claim a variety of uses, should (the variance) be granted,” Chapman said.
Jacqui Barnett, who is listed as a Columbus Washboard Factory co-owner on the factory’s Better Business Bureau profile, immediately expressed her dismay following the committee’s decision.
“I’m really disappointed,” Barnett said. “We brought the factory (here) in 1999. This was going to be great for Logan.”
Shaun North, of North Fitness Center, who Barnett said approached the washboard business about the swap, was not present. In a phone call Tuesday North said he had just learned of committee’s decision. On Wednesday North said he was under the impression that city council is still to vote on the issue; The Logan Daily News could not confirm with the city law director if this is the case.
However, in a phone call Wednesday morning Chapman told The Logan Daily News that the Columbus Washboard Company’s next step would be to file an appeal in Hocking County Common Pleas Court.
Prior to the washboard company’s meeting, another variance was not granted to a Main Street homeowner who wanted to convert her garage into a studio/event center.
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